ALSO ON SLAM!
Friday, September 24, 1999
Burke: Other Canuck teams could go
The Vancouver Canucks general manager doesn't buy the argument that the Canadian government shouldn't bail out the NHL teams with tax reassessments and lottery kickbacks when there isn't enough funding for other government programs.
"In my opinion, we have surpluses at different levels (of government)," the U.S.-born Burke said. "I'm constantly amazed at that answer. And if that is the Canadian answer, then start the clock on all the teams leaving Canada.
"I'm curious why politicians faced with these same issues south of the border have concluded that it is a valued and useful way to spend tax dollars. Are we that much smarter than they are? Does (the Canadian government) have that much of a better grip on what should be done on public money? I don't think so.
"I don't know what it is going to take for people to realize these problems are real."
Burke argued that tax breaks have been given to the U.S. film industry shooting in Canada and that other companies have been bailed out by government.
"You can go list after list of things that various levels of Canadian governments have deemed worthy of subsidies or tax breaks," Burke said.
"This is one that has never been deemed worthy. This industry is now in trouble and I suggest that this industry has a prominent place in Canada. You can't blame owners for moving teams out of Canada if nothing is done."
Burke didn't equate his contract squabbles with restricted free agents Ed Jovanovski and Adrian Aucoin with the Canucks financial woes.
"I don't think we have a choice than to make better decisions on how we spend our money," Burke said.
Yet, Burke signed centre Andrew Cassels, who is coming off a 12-goal season to a three-year, $7.5-million US contract during the summer.
He also gave journeyman defenceman Murray Baron a three-year, $6.6-million US deal last year.
Burke's venom yesterday came on the heels of Orca Bay Sports and Entertainment selling the NBA's Vancouver Grizzlies to Missouri billionaire Bill Laurie. Orca still owns the Canucks.
"I don't foresee a domino effect," Burke said when asked if the Canucks also would be sold.
"(Orca chairman John McCaw) was looking to bring in a strategic partner and when that didn't happen, he did what he had to do."